Friday 28th July 2017

Updates from the Standards and Legislation Director

ESA Potable Water project update

ESA unfortunately missed the last meeting arranged by the European Drinking Water (EDW) in Brussels on 18th May, due to it coinciding with the AGM meeting in Barcelona.

In response to the EC route map with its 6 options, the EDW has issued a position paper confirming that they (and ESA) require one single EU wide test for materials and assemblies for all items in contact with drinking water. This should incorporate harmonised test methods already agreed by TG 164.

As most of the detailed work on the tests referring to Elastomers, Plastics, Metals and Cement has been completed, there is some hope that this MIGHT be a shorter process than the twenty years taken so far. EDW and ESA has also asked for a “Seals Cluster” to be considered.

EDW has also issued a public affairs plan of action to aid ensuring all interested parties are aware of the EDW position and the reasons behind this stance.

The ESA position paper on drinking water testing has been updated on the ESA website

Environmental Goods Act (EGA) progress

There was a “final” meeting of representatives in Geneva on 3rd and 4th December, 2016. It was confirmed that Sealing Devices were on the A list of products to be added to the EGA. This is a positive position.

However serious differences exist between Europe, USA and China, and progress has been stalled

With the recent appointment of Robert Lighthizer as the new head of USTR (the US representatives on the EGA, things may be resurrected.

Our sister organisation FSA has a plan of action to influence USTR to reengage with EGA negotiations.

HS Codes

As part of the EGA discussions, it was recognised that both ESA and FSA members were using differing HS Codes, and as the EGA is to specify products by HS code, it was agreed a working group of members of both organisations would consider this issue with a view to having an agreed universal standard for each product HS code. The final definitive HS codes list has been agreed and published. This will be the ONLY HS codes used in the EGA discussions

Members can continue to use differing codes where these have been agreed with their local authorities, but if they do they will not feature in any EGA agreement. The one real issue was for gaskets. The basic rule is that if a gasket is made of more than one base material (like AF sheet) then the product is classified by the material that gives it its “essential character”.

Members are therefore requested to stop referring to standard sheet materials as “Elastomeric Sheet” as this is totally misleading. These sheets should be defined as “synthetic inorganic materials, glass, aramid and mineral fibres, charged with fillers, and bonded with elastomers”, or Aramid fibre sheets which is the most common material giving the product its essential character.

Best Available Technique (BAT)

Since IED 2010 became an active Directive, the ESA BAT document (written in 2009) needs to be updated, as it has now become a vital document for setting local emission rates.

An updated “route map” has been issued to the divisions to assist with their review of their sections. The Executive summary and the General Introduction sections have been issued.

It is vital that the Sealing Technologies BAT is up to date to allow ESA to recommend its use in the various BREFs that are being created and reviewed.  Divisions are asked for some urgent action on the review of their section of the BAT.

The current focus is on Waste Gas Treatment in Chemicals sector (WGC BREF), and the first feedback session via BATIS system has just been completed, with ESA contributing.

Mark Neal is now a member of EC Article 13 working group on BREFs and BATs.

Standards and Government Affairs group

Following a discussion at the AGM it has been agreed to set up a new group to focus on issues of standards and changes to EU law and regulations, and ensure the issues vital to ESA members are correctly addressed and the appropriate follow ups are made.

The first kick off meeting of this group was held on 6th July. All divisions are represented, along with the Executive and Smiths Group have offered their expertise to guide the group.

Subjects like European trade agreements; BREFs; Drinking Water Directive; Food contact material; and Brexit implications will be on the agenda. Any suggestions to issues the group might wish to consider would be gratefully received.

David Mitchell, Standard and Legislation Director

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